Monday, August 30, 2010
Jumping in a Different Pool
For two weeks Haiti has been our home.
What I wanted was to hit the ground running. Two weeks? I thought by now I'd be starting an orphanage or delivering babies in the tent cities. Don't laugh. A girl can dream, right?
I landed in Haiti ready to do something big...giant...revolutionary and kung-fu, gung-hoe for the kingdom.
Instead I hit the ground running...right into what felt like a big, brick wall.
The first night in Haiti I laid in the bed and cried my eyes out to Aaron.
"I can't do this. I can't deal with the mess...the dirt...Hudson crawling around on the yucky floor. All the holes in this house. All the open spots where bugs and mice can enter. I know lots of people could do this, but what were we thinking? I'm not one of those people. I'm not even sort of like one of those people."
I fell asleep on a wet pillow angry at Aaron. "How could you bring us here? How could you think we could do this? How could you think this would be good?"
I haven't written about the harder things...the honest, I want to go home things. Part of me is afraid that I'll offend someone here in Haiti. The other part of me is tired of stating the obvious. I'm not ashamed. That's not it. I never thought I could do this, so believe me it doesn't bother my pride one tiny bit to admit that I'm the suckiest missionary ever. I'm just sick of my own whining and frustration. I hate talking about how no-good at this I am.
Back to not wanting to offend anyone here in Haiti....
For Haiti (the Haitian people and the other missionaries in Haiti) our house is so nice. It's bigger than what I was expecting. We have electricity 24/7. Electricity is limited at night, but we never notice it. We have washing machines. Most of Haiti does not...even a lot of missionaries don't. We have a dryer. Unheard of in Haiti. We have air conditioning during the day. So see...for Haiti we are living it up. This is like the Beverly Hills of the island.
So...I don't want anyone to think that I need rescuing from the hard parts. I don't want anyone here to feel responsible for how hard I have thought it is. No one needs to fix anything or do more or be more encouraging. I have had a hard time here adjusting, but it is no one's fault but mine. I can't stress that enough.
I'm not wanting to go home. I know we're supposed to be here. I'm just saying it's not been easy, but I'm equally saying I don't want anyone to feel sorry for me. These trials...these hard things are my things...it's my junk...it's between me and the Lord. I'm the one who needs the work. I need sanctifying. I need to grow in patience, perseverance, contentment and having joy in all circumstances.
I am well aware that I'm used to living in absolute luxury. In my old life, if I needed something done, I did it or Aaron did it. He can fix anything. He knows how to do everything. If there's a leak under a sink it will be fixed promptly. If I saw a bug, I had our exterminator's number in my cell phone. We were operating in a world that made sense to us. We could drive. We could buy things. We knew our way around and spoke the same language as everyone else around us.
It was very easy to fool myself in America. America made it easy to hide my shortcomings and sin. When you land on this island it is as if Haiti strips your clothes off. Leaves you standing there naked...all your flaws, cellulite and skin exposed. Every pimple. Every large pore. Every mole. Every weird, why-is-that-there hair...visible. You can't ignore any of it or pretend it's not there.
In some ways I hate it. I hate feeling this eat up with sin. I hate seeing myself for who I really am.
I know it's good. I know it's needed. I'm sure one day (not today, but one day) I will look back and thank Haiti and the God who brought us here for giving me the opportunity to see the person behind the layers and layers of falsity...the pounds and pounds of Tammy Faye Baker style makeup I found myself wearing as an American resident.
After I had my first baby I remember getting in the shower for the first time at the hospital. I did what no woman should do...I looked down at my body. You know on Mrs. Doubtfire when he puts on his fat suit? That's what it looked like I was wearing. A fat suit. No one warned me about what a post-baby body would look like. I looked down at what I thought would be me for the rest of my life and did the only sane thing a hormonal, insanely tired woman can do...I cried. I heaved. I sobbed. It was so loud the nurse came to check on me. Through the door she tried to comfort me.
"Your body will heal. You will look normal again. It will just take time and a little work. You're going to be fine. I promise. You just had a baby. That's a big deal. Be patient. You will look great again in no time."
I thought she was lying. I would be an exception. I must be, because I looked so bad.
Nothing that hideous and disfigured could turn good again. I was convinced of it.
"No. No it won't," I squeaked out between the sobs to the nurse on the other side of the door.
I feel like that sobbing, flabby, I'm so ugly, I hate myself girl again now that I'm in Haiti.
Here there is no hiding my sin...my gag nasty. I'm going to have to stand in the shower with it for awhile and bawl.
Unlike that ugly crying new mother, I have such hope. I know that all this truth...this face-to-face time I'm having with myself...the person I never knew was hiding inside me...is a good thing. I'm in a new place and seeing a whole new world of sin in myself, but God still remains the author and perfecter of my faith.
He'll smooth out these rough parts. He'll shrink the nasty. He'll tone the parts that make me feel ashamed and unlovely. He'll make something beautiful out of something shameful and disgusting.
After a few months of motherhood, some exercise and marathon nursing a little boy my body did return to normal. Not perfect. It wasn't perfect before I had a baby. It did go back to something that I was okay with...I was me again.
I know it's going to take work and time, but I'm positive God will use each of these trials for my good and for His glory.
Two weeks in Haiti...
I wish I could report that my fantasy orphanage is up and going or post a picture of me holding someone's placenta, but I've been busy breaking down and being comforted by Jesus.
I've been busy trying to figure out how to run a house in a third world country. These kids, Aaron and this home still have to be my number one earthly ministry. That can't change just because I changed countries.
I'm learning a routine. I'm learning how to keep the house clean. I'm learning how to keep clean clothes in the closets. I'm learning how to shop...what to cook...how to cook. Everything domestic that I knew how to do in the States must be relearned here in Haiti. Everything is different.
And did I mention that I don't know what the heck most people are saying?
In the midst of the madness, I'm making a home for our children...a place that feels comfortable and makes sense. It will never be extravagant. It will never be like our homes in the States. But I don't want it to be. I wanted Haiti to change me forever in that way, and thankfully it is.
I wanted to jump into ministry...into something exciting and big.
Instead, I jumped into a different ministry...the one called loving my children and figuring out how to care for my family in a place that is hard to figure out right now. Aaron is doing beautiful work for the kingdom as he teaches Hatian kids about the one true God. He is loving kids who have faced incredible loss this past year. I want our home to be a place of rest for Aaron...a joy to return to every day.
We hired a jewel of a woman to help me keep the house going. She doesn't speak English. I'm learning Creole quickly.
As I was hanging clothes on the line today I asked God to remind me again that hanging clothes to dry, loving and disciplining a spastic, adorable, strong willed two year old, learning the language, and making a grocery list are just as important right now as all the dreams I have for our time in Haiti.
It's been a better day in my soul today. I still feel stuck in that sad shower, but like I said...I have hope.
The shower will eventually end, and I'll walk out new and lovely. I know it's true because like that nurse, God stands right outside the door gently reassuring me...
"You're going to be fine. I am the God who heals. I make broken things new and useful. It will take time and some work. You just landed in Haiti. It's a hard place. It's a little bit hard because it's Haiti. It's a lot hard because it's something new. Be patient."